Notes to broadcasters
Cassava has become a delicacy and a lucrative business opportunity in Dar es Salaam lately. Women petty traders sell raw cassava to motorists in highway traffic jams. The number of consumers buying cassava flour in urban shops and supermarkets is increasing.
In the past, cassava was eaten by Muslims and by coastal cultures mainly during Ramadan as a main dish called futari by mixing it with beans and coconut milk, and eating it with spiced porridge. Further inland, cassava was eaten as a breakfast snack and the leaves were eaten as a vegetable.
But now, cassava has graduated from simply being food for particular cultures to a national food and a snack eaten raw, boiled or fried as a crisp. It is now popular, accepted and eaten by people from all walks of life.
This script looks at the cassava value chain, the challenges of positioning cassava in the marketplace, and how collective marketing is helping both cassava producers and cassava processors.
You might choose to present this drama as part of your regular farming program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
You could also use this script as research material or as inspiration for creating your own programming on cassava marketing and the cassava value chain in your country.
Talk to cassava farmers, processors and experts. You might ask them:
• What are the business opportunities for producing and processing cassava in your community, region or country?
• Have farmers formed groups to collectively market their cassava or cassava flour? Have these groups been successful?
• What are the challenges to doing collective marketing, and what solutions have groups come up with?
Estimated running time, including intro and outro music, is about 20 minutes.
ScriptSIGNATURE TUNE FADES IN AND OUT
Cassava flour has become popular too. You can find it in many shops, and not just during Ramadan. Why has cassava become so popular and so common?
Join me as we explore the cassava value chain and talk to cassava farmers, cassava processors, and a cassava scientist. You will hear a lot about farmers who are joining together to collectively market their cassava. You will see for yourself how cassava farmers and cassava processors are making a good living.
SIGNATURE TUNE FADES IN AND OUT
But over time, the price of raw cassava dropped drastically to 80,000 shillings per lorry, so I decided to abandon the crop and look for an alternative business. Growing cassava was no longer profitable because of the high costs of production compared to the selling price.
But then I heard about a Flash Air Drier machine which had been requested by fellow cassava growers. Nobody wanted it because of its high running costs, so I asked if I could keep it.
The machine can process sixteen thousand kilos of fresh cassava into four tonnes of cassava twice per week. Each tonne makes one thousand one kilo bags of cassava flour.
My cost of production for one kilo of high quality cassava flour was 1,516 shillings, and I sold the flour for 1,800 a kilo wholesale and 2,000 retail. This gave me a profit margin of between 200 and 484 shillings per kilo bag.
I bought cassava from associations and open markets. I paid small-scale farmers a better price than middlemen, who select cassava tubers by the sizes they wanted. They just took the –medium-sized roots and left the rest.
We buy directly from farms and save farmers their transport costs to the market. We also go to open markets where farmers have combined their cassava to sell in bulk. This saves us the time of visiting individual farmers; it saves them and us time and money.
We also buy overgrown cassava roots which are between one to two years old, and which other buyers and markets don’t touch, just processors. We pay between 100 and 600 Tanzanian shillings per kilo for big roots which would otherwise go to waste. In this way, farmers have the advantage of selling their cassava throughout the year.
In 2006, me and some other farmers were introduced to groups by government extension officers. They recommended that we form groups so they could more easily help us instead of trying to help every individual.
We started with a half-hectare of cassava. But then the district administration saw our efforts and gave us twelve hectares. We used ten hectares to plant cassava commercially and a half-hectare for a model farm.
We learnt to grow our own seedlings which we planted in our farm and sold to other farmers for extra cash. We received more attention and training from farm extension workers from Mtwara Municipality. They taught us how to grow quality disease-resistant cassava that produced high yields.
We have become known to non-governmental organizations and connected to outside markets, and we have received professional help to boost our cassava business. Joining groups has saved my life and improved my income.
Welcome, Fabiola Mkorekha. Can you please tell us how you have benefited from collective marketing?
I received the combined benefits of income from selling our cassava and professional knowledge on cassava production. I also learned to add value to cassava by making cakes and buns. In the past, my knowledge of cassava flour was limited to cooking ugali only (Editor’s note: stiff porridge).
The money we received as a group was divided among ourselves, and we saved some to be used in a savings and loan scheme. I borrowed 120,000 Tanzanian shillings to supplement my farming by creating a business buying and reselling women’s wrappers.
I have used the profits to take my children to school, and bought myself a converted dressing table, wardrobe, bed and mattress! These were only dreams! But now they have become a reality and I am a very happy and contented woman, thanks to collective marketing!
I have surpassed my expectations. I borrowed 120,000 shillings and 150,000 shillings! I have finished repaying the loan, returned my capital, and made a profit of 30,000 shillings.
After talking to small-scale farmers about collective marketing, we shall now hear from a government cassava expert on his experience of collective marketing.
Welcome, John Msemo, Senior Agricultural Researcher from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and Cooperatives and expert on post-harvest cassava.
Also, if farmers are in a group, it is easier to give them government assistance on improved planting materials, adding value and processing technology. This saves energy and resources instead of dividing it between individual farmers.
Cassava equipment is very expensive; not many can afford the machines and don’t know where to get capital to buy them. You also need a building to house the equipment and to dry and store your cassava. It is easier to access a building through a local government when farmers work in groups.
If farmers form groups, banks have more confidence to give farmers loans. This can boost their productivity, add value to their production and give them purchasing power to dictate the selling prices for raw and processed cassava.
We also heard from Matanga Joseph, Salum Nakubabi and Fabiola Mkorekha, farmers and cassava processors who have given us insight into the cassava value chain and the benefits of collective marketing.
Collective marketing has the additional benefit of helping small-scale farmers compete more effectively with large-scale cassava producers, processors and middlemen who sometimes take advantage of farmers, reduce their bargaining power and limit their market and income.
Thank you for tuning in to (name of program). Till next time, it’s been me your host, (host’s name) Stay tuned!SIGNATURE TUNE
Contributed by: Raziah Mwawanga
Reviewed by: John Msemo, Kibaha Research Center, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Tanzania
John Msemo, July 2014
Matanga Joseph, August 2014
Salum Nakubabi, August 2014
Fabiola Mkorekha, August 2014
Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)